The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Catcher and right field11.25.12

Today’s interesting Yankees story comes from George King in the Post, regarding what’s going on with free agents Russell Martin and Ichiro Suzuki.

If it were my money, I’d bring back Martin and find a younger right fielder, but I’m not the one trying to get down to $189 million.

Today’s interesting question is, what would you do at catcher and in right?

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Sabathia and Martin together again08.04.12

Joe Girardi has wanted to team CC Sabathia and Russell Martin again for a while, but he finally did it Friday night against the Mariners, and it worked out well for the Yankees.

Sabathia threw a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the 6-3 win over the Mariners.

“After a day off, Russell was fresh, as fresh as he can be in the month of August,” Girardi said. “It just felt like the time to do it.”

Sabathia said: “Everybody made such a big deal. We wondering when I was going to throw to him again. … Once we got out there, we were on the same page.”

Martin caught him the first two games, then Chris Stewart caught the next 16, and it didn’t go poorly. Sabathia has a 3.24 ERA with Stewart behind the plate.

But when Game 1 comes, barring injury, it’s going to be Martin catching Sabathia. So working together some can’t hurt.

“I wanted to make sure he had a good start,” Martin said. “If he didn’t, I know there would be some stories about it. … Today just proved I can catch CC.”

Martin also continued to come on a little bit with the bat, delivering a double and a single. And he stole a base and scored two runs. But Martin is still only hitting .195.

 

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Robertson a worthy heir05.01.12

David Robertson is looking like a worthy heir to Mariano Rivera’s closing throne. If Rivera retires after this season, wouldn’t you want to see Robertson in the ninth? He’s sure doing a wonderful job in the eighth again.

Robertson struck out the side in the eighth Monday night, setting up Rivera for his fifth save in the 2-1 win over the Orioles. Not only does Robertson own 18 strikeouts in 11 innings over 11 outings so far this season, he has yet to give up a run, earned or unearned.

In fact, he has now thrown 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings dating to Sept. 1, 2011, the longest current streak in the major leagues.

“He’s been lights out,” Russell Martin said with the view from behind the catcher’s mask. “He’s just got that sort of fastball that nobody seems to be able to put the barrel on. It gets on you quick and it has got some late cut action. His ball is moving. Guys just don’t seem to recognize it well. He’s got a good curveball to go with that. He’s got a changeup. We rarely have to use the changeup because there are so many guys who are just overmatched by his fastball.

“It’s just a luxury to have a guy like that in the eighth inning.”

Martin can see some of Rivera in Robertson.

“They have the same type of fastball,” Martin said. “It’s just heavy. It’s like a heavy ball and it bores in on left-handers. Righties, they start their swing and it’s just moving a couple of inches off the barrel. So it’s nice to have them.”

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Yankees postgame: Martin makes the play; Kuroda improving; Chavez delivers; Nunez brings smiles05.01.12

Russell Martin showed off his athleticism again in this 2-1 win over Orioles. He sprung after a Hiroki Kuroda splitter that bounced away with two outs in the seventh. Nick Markakis raced in from third, trying to score the tying run. But Martin flipped to Kuroda and Kuroda tagged out the diving Markakis.

“I didn’t really have time to set myself up to throw overhand,” Martin said. “I kind of just optioned it to him. I never was a quarterback, so that was a first for me.”

Kuroda left after seven, allowing one run and four hits. He has allowed just three earned runs and nine hits in 13 2/3 over his last two starts after struggling in two of his first three starts as an American League.

“It seems like he’s making the adjustment,” Martin said.

“He’s a consistent pitcher and that’s what he’s starting to show,” Girardi said.

Eric Chavez’s lefty bat has gotten more use since Brett Gardner went on the DL. Chavez hit his third homer, a two-run shot. He has just 28 at-bats. He hit only two homers in 160 at-bats last season.

“I kind of do feel like you’re in a good little groove,” Chavez said. “But once he comes back, I know what my role is.”

Eduardo Nunez brought smiles to the Yankees’ faces with a couple of awkward-looking catches in his first career start in left. But he had five chances to catch balls and he made every play.

“He talks funny; he runs funny; he swings funny; he catches the ball funny,” Andruw Jones said. “Everything he does is funny.”

Girardi said: “He was tested with some tough plays and did an outstanding job.”

Mariano Rivera earned his fifth save and moved into sole possession of eighth place on the career appearance list at 1,051.

Derek Jeter finished April with a career-high 37 hits, the top total by a Yankee through April 30 since Alfonso Soriano had 46 in 2003

Curtis Granderson has reached via hit or walk in 21 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.

The Yankees are 17-5 vs. the Orioles since the start of 2011 and 30-10 since the beginning of 2010. They are 4-0 against the Orioles this season.

Tuesday night’s pitching matchup will feature Phil Hughes vs. Brian Matusz.

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Postgame notes: “When it doesn’t happen, you’re a little shocked”04.06.12

A first-inning decision to intentionally load the bases had backfired, but the Yankees offense had rallied. CC Sabathia’s fastball command had been erratic, but he’d settled down. Dave Robertson had put the tying run at third base, but he’d struck out three in a row.

The Yankees had been in trouble all night, but it was only when they seemed to be in safe hands — arguably the safest hands in the history of the game — that Opening Day unraveled into a stunning one-run loss.

“(Mariano Rivera) is not going to be perfect the whole year,” Joe Girardi said. “But I believe he’s going to be really, really, really good. … We’re pretty used to seeing him do it. We’ve seen it over 600 times, so when it doesn’t happen, you’re a little shocked.”

The pitch Rivera wanted back was a 1-2 cutter to Desmond Jennings. It was a leadoff single, the least damaging hit of the inning, but it was a legitimate mistake. Rivera wanted the pitch down, he left it up, and everything soon spiraled. Both Rivera and Russell Martin seemed to think the Zobrist triple was a good pitch, Zobrist just did a good job with it. Loading the bases was an obvious decision, and the Sean Rodriguez might have been pivotal if not for Carlos Pena’s three-hit, five-RBI day.

“After we got that strikeout, I thought we had a chance,” Martin said. “It’s a tough spot. You try to get out of those situations, but it’s easier said than done.”

Even for the greatest of all time.

“It’s my fault,” Rivera said. “I felt good. I’m not going to make excuses for what happened. I just left the ball over the plate. It’s bad. You don’t want to start a season that way, but thank God it’s only one game.”

• In his career, Rivera had been successful in 60 of 61 save opportunities against the Rays. He’d converted his past 27 chances against them.

• What a strange night of managerial decisions. The Yankees twice intentionally loaded the bases, the Rays put on a suicide squeeze with two strikes, and at the end the Yankees had five infielders playing on the edge of the grass while two outfielders played extremely shallow.

• Girardi said intentionally loading the bases in the first inning was because of the matchup and because of the opposing starter. CC Sabathia had great numbers against Carlos Pena, and Girardi expected a low-scoring game against James Shields. “Sean Rodriguez has hit (Sabathia) hard,” Girardi explained. “And it’s not something I’ll do a lot in the first inning with CC, but as I said, Shields has been pretty tough on us. … I felt good about CC getting him out, but it didn’t work.”

• Sabathia on the decision to load the bases: “I knew I had some success off him, but like I said, it’s a lefty so I knew if I make the right pitches then we get out of it. … It was a lefty, so I felt like it was the right move.”

• Pena on his reaction to walking Rodriguez in the first inning: “I was like, ‘Woah, they are walking Sean to get to me.’ After you get past the first, initial shock, it’s time to get to business.”

• Although the grand slam came on a 3-2 pitch, Sabathia was behind 2-0 and 3-1 in the Pena at-bat. Fastball command was an early problem for the Yankees ace. The third-inning Longoria home run came on a 1-0 pitch. “Early in the game, he wasn’t really where he wanted to be,” Russell Martin said. “But as the game went along, it looked like he started to get that comfort level back.” Sabathia pitched his final 3.2 innings scoreless.

• I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d ever actually seen a true five-man infield. I’ve seen some shifts where an outfielder plays extremely shallow, almost in the infield, but in the ninth inning the Yankees had five true infielders, all playing on the edge of the infield grass. Eduardo Nunez was playing up the middle. “Man, it has been a while,” Teixeira said. “They never ask me to go to the middle. But that was the right call there.”

• Raul Ibanez had never hit an Opening Day home run until today. It was his 14th time on an Opening Day roster and his 11th start. In the final two weeks of spring training he hit .304 with three homers, and had a fourth home run opportunity robbed by an over-the-wall catch. “Spring training’s over now and everything that happened before today is really irrelevant,” Ibanez said.

• Shields had gone at least seven innings in 11 straight starts. Tonight he lasted five innings and gave up all six Yankees runs. “I don’t ever remember scoring that many runs off him,” Teixeira said. “He’s been really tough off us. We did get a lot of guys on base, but it’d be nice to get a couple more.” The Yankees were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

• The Rays have now won five straight against the Yankees for the first time in franchise history.

• Pena was 0-for-11 with three strikeouts in his career against Rivera. He was 4-for-35 against Sabathia, including an 0-for-14 slump with 11 strikeouts.

• Alex Rodriguez has hit safely in all eight Opening Day games he has played with the Yankees, the longest streak for the franchise since Lou Gehrig hit safely in 12 straight Opening Day games from 1926 to 1937.

• I don’t think anyone expects Rivera to blow a save or for Sabathia and Shields to be knocked around on the same night, but there was something very familiar about the Yankees opener. “It was a good four-hour game,” Girardi said. “We’re back. Nothing’s changed.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees injury report03.19.12

A quick rundown of the injuries suffered in Yankees camp this spring…

Robinson Cano
Bruised hand
Hit by a pitch last night, Cano was pulled from the game, then he went for x-rays that came back negative. He’s going to be reevaluated on Tuesday, but the Yankees don’t seem overly concerned.

Derek Jeter
Sore left calf
Jeter felt some soreness in his calf during Wednesday’s game in Dunedin. He finished the game but hasn’t played since. Today he’s scheduled to get treatment at the stadium. He hasn’t done baseball activities since Thursday. He’s expected to play Tuesday.

Russell Martin
Tight groin/hamstring
Martin was scratched from yesterday’s road trip because of some stiffness that he says is between his groin and hamstring. He felt something similar a few years ago and decided to be cautious about it this year. He’s expected to play Tuesday.

Nick Swisher
Sore groin
An MRI came back negative, but Swisher hasn’t played since feeling something “tug” running out of the box on Wednesday. He’s been going through regular baseball drills and is expected to play on Tuesday. Like Martin, Swisher said he wouldn’t have come out of the lineup if this were the regular season.

Dave Robertson
Bruised right foot
The most infamous Yankees injury of the spring seems to have resolved itself. Robertson stumbled down a step while carrying a box at his house and he hasn’t played in two weeks, but he threw a bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to throw another one tomorrow. He could be in a game within a week or so and the expectation is that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Freddy Garcia
Swollen right hand
Hit by a comebacker on Wednesday, Garcia has been shutdown for a few days. He’s skipping a scheduled minor league start this afternoon but could be back in a game as early as Friday. X-rays showed no broken bones, and Garcia’s simply been waiting for the swelling to go down.

Eduardo Nunez
Bruised right hand
Although he still had the hand wrapped after the game, Nunez played last night and said everything felt fine. He’s now played in back-to-back games after missing nearly two weeks because of soreness than lingered longer than expected. He suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch in Clearwater.

Ramiro Pena
Sprained right ankle
Pena is scheduled to take batting practice off Brad Meyers on Tuesday, which seems to indicate that he’s pretty close to returning from a sprained ankle suffered while sliding into second base on Thursday. He’s been walking around the clubhouse with no noticeable limp.

Austin Romine
Sore back
Romine missed time with a sore back last season as well, so the Yankees decided to be extra cautious when his back began feeling sore this spring. Romine has not played in a game and just started taking swings two days ago. He might be able to get in a game late in spring training, but he’s spent most of his time just trying to make sure the back doesn’t become a lingering issue.

George Kontos
Sore oblique
Injured in his first bullpen of the spring, Kontos waited longer than expected before getting back on a mound, but he finally made his spring debut last night with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

Russell Branyan
Sore back
Something of a wild card for the Yankees platoon DH job, Branyan hasn’t had a chance to plead his case because he’s been shutdown with a sore back. He received epidurals last week, but it’s still not clear when he’ll be ready to play.

Manny Delcarmen
Strained lat
The former Red Sox reliever hasn’t pitched in a game this season, but he threw a bullpen yesterday. Based on the timing of other pitchers he seems to be on track to get in a game in about a week.

Dan Burawa
Torn oblique
The biggest long-term injury of the camp could force Burawa to miss significant time. The young relief pitcher seemed to make a fast impression — both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman mentioned him at different points — but he had to shut it down at

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Saturday notes: Kuroda locates through four strong innings03.17.12

Hiroki Kuroda never looked particularly bad this spring, but he never looked overwhelmingly sharp either. Today he looked sharp. Kuroda allowed one run through four innings. Of his 59 pitches, 49 were strikes.

“Very happy with this outing compared to the last one,” Kuroda said. “My command was better. I was able to throw all my pitches where I wanted. … I’m not a power pitcher. I don’t strike out a lot of hitters. The less pitches the better.”

This was more the kind of outing the Yankees expected when they gave Kuroda $10 million this offseason.

“I thought he was really good,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought his fastball command was good. I thought his sinker was really good, (so was) his split. He threw some curveballs. Good outing for him. I thought he threw the ball well and it’s kind of what you’re going to see. He’s going to locate.”

• Robinson Cano’s first spring homer was positively crushed to right field. “I hit that one pretty good,” Cano said. “I don’t think I could any one any harder than that.” Cano said he never saw where it landed, and someone joked that it still hadn’t. “That’s good,” Cano said. “I might see it when I go out then.”

• Mariano Rivera needed eight pitches — seven strikes — to get through his scoreless fifth inning. “I feel good, thank you very much,” he said. “I felt good out there. Got a little sweat. It was good.”

• Rivera has gone 24 consecutive spring training innings without allowing an earned run. That dates back to 2008.

• Girardi’s take on Rivera’s inning: “It was the inning that I was on TV so it was a good inning to bring Mo in.”

• Dellin Betances pitched just one scoreless inning today, and that was according to plan. Betances will pitch again mid-to-late next week, and the Yankees didn’t want him to go too many days between appearances. He’s still getting stretched out, just needed to face a few hitters today. “His last two outings have been really good,” Girardi said. “He has had command of his three pitches. I’ve been very pleased. His first one, it was like a guy who hadn’t thrown since October. Since then, I’ve been very pleased with what he has done.”

• Eduardo Nunez played only four innings today, but that’s strictly because he hasn’t played in almost two weeks. His bruised right hand actually felt good the whole time, and he got an infield single to show for it. “I’ll take it,” Nunez said.

• Russell Martin has been scratched from tomorrow’s trip strictly because Girardi decided to let Martin, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher all rest until Tuesday. “During the season I probably could have played all three of them today,” Girardi said. “But we might as well be safe.”

• The plan is for Dave Robertson to throw a bullpen tomorrow. He played catch and did more running today.

• Another hitless day for Raul Ibanez. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and is hitting .071 this spring. “I’m not worried about it,” Girardi said. “I thought his at-bats were better today. This is a guy that hasn’t played every day this spring, it’s not like he’s in a groove. We’ll get him going.”

• Freddy Garcia said this morning that he expects to miss only one start because of his swollen right hand. Girardi agreed, saying Garcia was scheduled to pitch on Monday but that outing will be pushed back. Doesn’t sound like a long-term problem.

• The plan is for Andy Pettitte to be in Tampa in time for Tuesday’s workout. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen that day. Wonder what I’ll be writing about that day.

• Pettitte’s old locker has been assigned to Kuroda, and word is that the clubhouse guys are going to choose a new spot for Pettitte rather than move Kuroda. What woudl Kuroda do if Pettitte asked for his old spot? “Of course I’m going to move out somewhere (if he asks),” Kuroda said. Someone jokingly asked what would have if Pettitte, for some reason, wanted Kuroda’s number too. Kuroda laughed. “I would be honored to give him my number,” he said. I doubt that’s going to be an issue.

Associated Press photos

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Jeter, Martin and Swisher scratched03.16.12

Derek Jeter was pulled from todays lineup because of a tender left calf. Joe Girardi said hes decided Jeter wont play again until Tuesday, but he labeled this as more precautionary than anything. He hasnt forgotten what happened to Jeters other calf last year.

Also, Russell Martin was scratched because of soreness in his left groin. Its unclear whether it happened on yesterdays play at first base.

Nick Swisher has told Girardi that his tight groin feels better, but Girardi decided not to play him today either.

UPDATE, 10:14 a.m.: Here’s the basic injury update…

Derek Jeter
Went through normal drills in Tampa yesterday, but while the Yankees were on the bus home from Viera, Girardi got a call saying Jeter’s left calf was “tender.” That’s not the same calf that Jeter hurt last year, but Girardi considered last season’s injury to be a cautionary tale.

“My alarm was he hurt his calf last year,” Girardi said. “I said, even though it’s the other calf, I said we’re going to be smart about this. I told him, ‘Don’t even go out today.’ I think he could hit today and take BP, but just let it calm down.”

Russell Martin
Girardi planned to have Martin catch seven or eight innings today, but instead Martin showed up and said his left groin was “stiff.” Girardi’s not sure whether it’s connected to yesterday’s awkward play at first base. For whatever it’s worth, Martin said yesterday that he was fine on that play, banged his shoulder into the ground but nothing else.

“He will not catch today and I’m not sure when he’ll play again,” Girardi said. “… I don’t think Russell will be out but a couple of days, but you never know. You don’t know how guys respond.”

Nick Swisher
Pulled from Wednesday’s game because of a sore groin, Swisher went through drills yesterday and told Girardi that he’s feeling better, but Girardi is being extra cautious — hard to blame him given the current state of nagging injuries — and so he won’t play this afternoon. Girardi said it’s possible Swisher will play tomorrow.

Freddy Garcia
Was scheduled to pitch on Monday’s off day, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect that to happen. However, there seems to be a chance that Monday will be the only start Garcia actually skips. Too early to know for sure, but Girardi didn’t seem to be ruling out any other start.

“His hand looks better,” Girardi said. “(But) he still has some swelling in there.”

Eduardo Nunez
As scheduled, Nunez will not hit again today. It will be his third day off in a row. He’s scheduled to try to hit again tomorrow. He still hasn’t played since being hit by a pitch in the right hand last Monday.

Ramiro Pena
Out with a sprained right ankle suffered in yesterday’s game. Although Pena said yesterday that he thinks he’ll be out only a day or two, Girardi still thinks it might be longer. Girardi mentioned Tuesday as a possible return for Pena.

“I imagine he’s going to be a couple of days,” Girardi said. “The way I saw him walk off the field yesterday, I wasn’t extremely encouraged.”

Russell Branyan
Has yet to play in a spring training game and had multiple epidurals this morning to try to help his sore back.

Austin Romine
Still not doing anything baseball related because of his sore back.

“He’s doing better,” Girardi said. “He’s probably pretty close to getting on the field to do some baseball activities. He feels much better, he feels much stronger, and that was the feeling we wanted him to have.”

Dave Robertson
Said this morning that he’s going to play catch today, but he’s still not sure when he’ll be on a mound. Robertson said he’s “doing well” but Girardi had too many other players on his mind today and forgot to check on his setup man.

“I forgot to ask about him,” Girardi said. “I had so many other guys to talk about.”

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Thursday notes: “I don’t expect miracles”03.15.12

Both Joe Girardi and Freddy Garcia said pretty much the same thing today: It’s just too early to know anything for certain. Garcia had his right hand heavily wrapped this morning, but he’s still not sure how much time he’ll have to miss after being hit by a comebacker on Wednesday.

“Right now I don’t think about it,” Garcia said, “because I went to the hospital yesterday, they took x-rays and everything is fine. So, I just have to wait. I move my fingers good, so I don’t think I have to have any problems.”

Girardi said he’s expecting at least one more day of treatment. The injury seems to be close to the same spot where Eduardo Nunez has experienced soreness for a week and a half now.

“I don’t expect miracles,” Girardi said. “When you’ve got swelling in your hand, it’s going to take time to get rid of it. I’m not going to scratch him, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t make his next start on his day. Maybe a couple of days later or something.”

• The entire Yankees rotation is supposed to get an extra day of rest next time through.

• Two more notes about Michael Pineda’s fastball: 1) Girardi said he hasn’t seen any signs of Pineda trying to overthrow just to reach 95, and 2) Pineda said he’s much more focused on hitting his spots than hitting the mid-90s.

• Russell Martin on Pineda’s fastball: “I think he was like 88-90 in Clearwater, so it’s coming along. I’m not worried about it. I just want to see the guy pitch. He’s a pitcher like anybody else out there. I just wanted to see him execute pitches. His velocity, he has it in him, it’s just a matter of time. As soon as you put on your uniform, you’re in New York and you get the juices flowing, the velocity is going to pick up no matter what.”

• And if you’re looking for more fastball specifics: “(Pineda) was a little inconsistent trying to throw his fastball away to right-handers. It looked like he was pulling off a little bit.” Martin said it’s an easy thing to correct and could be fixed in a single bullpen.

• Ramiro Pena was trying to steal second base, and just as he went into his slide, his spike stuck in the dirt. That’s when he sprained his right ankle, not when he actually made contact with the bag. He estimated that he’ll miss only two or three days, but Girardi said that might be optimistic. “We’ll see about that,” Girardi said. “I imagine it’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow. Sometimes adrenaline helps you out in a situation like that.”

• Nick Swisher told Girardi that his tight groin didn’t get any worse last night, and he was fine when he came to the stadium this morning. Girardi hopes to have Swisher in the lineup tomorrow.

Other injury updates:

Dave Robertson was scheduled to play catch today and on track to throw a bullpen this weekend.
Russell Branyan still hasn’t played this spring and is getting an epidural for his sore back.
George Kontos threw another batting practice.
Manny Delcarmen is throwing off a half mound.

• The Nationals announced a strained hamstring for Chien-Ming Wang, who stumbled trying to cover first base. It’s obviously a tough break for a guy who finally seemed to be healthy and effective again.

• Martin was knocked down on the play that left Wang injured. “It happened in slow motion,” Martin said. “It was weird. I tucked pretty good. If I had fell differently, it could have been worse. I kind of just rolled with it. It’s the ninja coming out right there.”

• Apparently the Yankees saved all of their excitement for after the media was down in the clubhouse. They won the game 8-5, having rallied with four runs in the seventh and two runs in the eighth. Jose Gil is hitting .750 this spring and had a two-run single. Melky Mesa and Bill Hall both doubled in the game. Hall and Justin Maxwell each had two hits, continuing a nice spring for Maxwell (he’s hitting .375 with two stolen bases). Maxwell, Jayson Nix and Andruw Jones each stole a bag today.

• Clay Rapada pitched into and out of some trouble, but finished with 1.1 scoreless innings. Mike O’Connor and Adam Warren combined for a scoreless ninth. In between, Brett Marshall allowed two runs in 2.1 innings and Juan Cedeno was charged with a run in his two-thirds of an inning.

Associated Press photos

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Friday notes: Banuelos takes another step forward03.09.12

This was more like it. After a somewhat erratic spring debut, Manny Banuelos looked more like an elite pitching prospect on the verge of the big leagues this afternoon. His fastball was in the mid-90s and he mixed offspeed pitches without walking anyone. He struck out three in two scoreless innings.

“I think he battled some nerves his first time out,” catcher Russell Martin said. “He looked like he was a little erratic. This time out, he was just pitching. Powering his fastball, downward plane, and he looked like he just had more control of all his pitches. So I think as we progress here, he’s just going to sharpen up.”

The Yankees have seen improvement in each of their top pitching prospects. Banuelos showed it today. Dellin Betances showed it yesterday. David Phelps, D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren have been pretty sharp all spring, drawing consistent praise from Joe Girardi.

“I thought (Banuelos) attacked the zone better and was able to get his secondary pitches over,” Girardi said. “I thought Betances made a big jump too, yesterday. Betances was aggressive yesterday, threw some strikes and was throwing 95. You’re trying to get them more comfortable to attack the zone with their good stuff. I think we saw it from both of them.”

Expectation is that both Banuelos and Betances have next to zero chance of making the big league roster. They’re ticketed for Triple-A, and might not even be the first pitchers called up if the Yankees need a spot starter. But the Yankees have seen progress, and all eyes are on each of their outings.

Today it was Banuelos’ turn to shine.

“He’s got great stuff, no question,” Martin said. “But he still has to work on his changeup, and he still has to work on his breaking ball command for him to be who he wants to be. But it’s still early in the spring, and from this outing compared to the last, it’s already a nice leap forward. He definitely has the stuff. He’s got a lot of life on his fastball. It’s easy. He struck a couple guys out just elevating his fastball. But the main thing for him, he’s the type of guy who will get himself in trouble. He’s not going to get banged around because his stuff’s so good. But you don’t want the guy to walk guys and create his own troubles. And that’s what we’re trying to keep him from doing. Just make sure that he’s throwing the ball over the plate and using all his pitches.”

• Not much to say about Freddy Garcia’s outing. He went three scoreless innings with two strikeouts and one hit, keeping his pitch count low and working quickly. “Vintage Freddy,” is what Girardi called it. Before the game, Garcia told Martin that he wanted to work on his changeup a little bit, and Garcia said his changeup was arguably his best pitch of the day.

• Martin on Garcia: “His pitch count was relatively low because he got contact. He was throwing strikes. That’s what you want from him, just to be able to throw all his pitches over the plate, and induce contact. That’s what he did.”

• It was just yesterday that Joba Chamberlain told me he would begin throwing breaking balls on Sunday. Turns out, he’s ahead of even his own schedule. Chamberlain wound up throwing breaking balls this morning, throwing five sliders for the first time since Tommy John surgery. “Once I threw the first two, the last three were a lot better,” he said. Chamberlain went through his usual routine of 10 pitches off flat ground, 20 off a mound, a short rest, then 10 more off the mound. When that was finished, he threw all five sliders with his catcher standing up so that he wouldn’t feel the need to overthrow and keep the ball down.

• Most of the pitching attention today was on Garcia and Banuelos, but I thought Mitchell look pretty sharp. He’s known for that sinker, but he really has to use his changeup and breaking ball to stay effective, and today he got a swinging strike three with a good changeup that had good movement. He pitched two scoreless, allowing one hit and one walk.

• Juan Cedeno is probably the longest of long shots to make this team as a left-handed releiver, but today he came in to face one batter — big league lefty Freddie Freeman — and Cedeno got a strikeout. Kevin Whelan closed out the win with the final two outs.

• The 3-0 win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Yankees.

• Great play by Martin to get Michael Bourne out on a bunt in the third inning. It was a pretty good bunt up the third-base line, and Martin made a kind of twirling throw to get one of the fastest players in baseball. “That’s as good as it gets from a catcher,” Girardi said. “There aren’t too many people who can make that play, just because of his athleticism.”

• Even though the CT scan came back negative, the Yankees are taking things slow with Eduardo Nunez’s sore right hand. “We said, ‘Don’t take (batting practice) today and let’s see where you are tomorrow,’” Girardi said. As of right now, Nunez is not scheduled to make tomorrow’s trip to play the Braves.

• No one had more than one hit today, but four Yankees — Martin, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Doug Bernier — did have doubles in the win. It was Swisher’s second double of the spring. Robinson Cano picked up his second RBI. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Melky Mesa and Gustavo Molina also had hits.

• For Sunday’s split-squad games, the plan is for the big league outfielders to travel to Fort Myers with Phil Hughes. The big league infielders will stay in Tampa to play behind CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Girardi is going to the road game. I’m still making up my mind.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 158 Comments →

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